Pervasive Technologies: Access to Knowledge (A2K)in the Marketplace
Pervasive networked communication technologies are transforming the way in which people across the world access information. The prices of mobile phones and netbooks have plummeted, even as their penetration and use have become nearly ubiquitous. Indeed, these commercial devices are fulfilling the promise that initiatives like the One Laptop per Child were never able to deliver fully. In China, hardware manufacturers invent, remix and recreate technological devices that have an unclear relationship with the law. In India, software developers change content and its interplay with hardware in surprising ways, often confounding the original intentions and legally protected boundaries of the content. In Indonesia, domestic web portals dominate the market without always being in agreement with domestic and international copyright law. These Third World mass-marketing commercial technology players have been able to affect access to knowledge significantly. Yet, they have rarely been the subject of scholarly research, especially with respect to their significance as a social good. The A2K movement is concerned with the promotion of alternative content licensing and practices within the copyright regime for digital and networked media. The A2K movement advocates a commons approach to cyberspace, media openness, civil liberties and privacy rights, and the right to information, culture and knowledge. This project will explore the interplay between intellectual property and the production and deployment of pervasive networked technologies. It will provide a supply-side picture of how intellectual property plays a role (or not) in the proliferation of access technologies. The resulting body of research is expected to shed light on how better to promote access to knowledge in Asia, with a view to influencing intellectual property laws and practices.